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Vítor Pereira has attempted to placate Everton fans opposed to his appointment by giving an unusual public interview to defend his managerial record and claim “Pereira Out” graffiti on Goodison Park is evidence of passion rather than a personal attack.
Everton’s latest managerial search strayed into farce on Wednesday when Pereira gave a lengthy interview to Sky Sports News while awaiting a decision from the club on his interview to succeed Rafael Benítez as manager. Within hours of it emerging on Tuesday that the Portuguese coach was Farhad Moshiri’s favoured candidate, graffiti was daubed on a wall at Goodison that read: “Pereira Out, Lampard In”. The former Chelsea and Derby manager Frank Lampard has also been interviewed for the vacancy.
Pereira had reached advanced negotiations with Moshiri, and Moshiri’s business associate Alisher Usmanov, with Everton’s majority shareholder again ignoring reservations among his board over his managerial choice. Whether Moshiri’s interest in the 53-year-old cools as a result of the negative reaction remains to be seen, but Pereira took the unorthodox step of publicly reacting to the criticism and selling his vision for Everton in the meantime.
“This is the first time in my career that I see this kind of thing,” said the former Porto and Fenerbahce manager of the graffiti. “I never had in my career this kind of comment about me. My CV speaks for itself but I think this criticism is not to me, it’s the environment now because the club is not in a good position.
“The supporters have passion and I think this passion is the power of the club. I remember when I watched Everton games a few years ago and sometimes the spirit of the supporters won the game. Passion in football can have a positive or a negative side. What a manager should do in this moment is bring again the positive passion from the supporters. I don’t think these are personal attacks.”
Pereira insisted he had been approached by Everton after maintaining “a good relationship” with the chairman, Bill Kenwright, since first being interviewed for the job in 2013. He claimed to have had several interviews with Kenwright, Moshiri and others, and said: “They were enthusiastic about what I proposed to them. I felt in the meeting they were very positive. They have other candidates and this is the time for decisions. We wait for the decision.”
Despite the negative reaction Pereira maintained he still wanted the job and could handle the pressure. “Yes of course [he wants the job] - I don’t have any doubt,” he said. “I did my work as a professional and now the decision is the club’s.”
Everton fans staged another protest at the way the club is run under Moshiri outside Goodison on Wednesday. A sizeable crowd gathered at the ‘Dixie’ Dean statue and called for the billionaire to sack his board. There were also protests after the defeat by Aston Villa on Saturday and outside the Liver Building, where Everton’s administrative departments are based, on Tuesday.